Health Care, Human Resources, and Lakeshore

Health system acquires physician group

July 23, 2018
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Mercy Health physician groups merge
Mercy Health Physician Partners is comprised of more than 500 physicians and advanced practice professionals who work in Grand Rapids and along the lakeshore. Courtesy Mercy Health

A health system in the region has acquired another system’s physician group.

Mercy Health acquired North Ottawa Community Health System's North Ottawa Medical Group, effective July 20.

The group includes seven practices, 20 providers and 82 staff members that serve 30,000 patients.

The group is now part of Mercy Health Physician Partners.

The price of the transaction was not disclosed.

Leadership and support teams have been transitioned to Mercy Health, and patients will see the same providers in the same offices.

The only change patients should notice is the name on top of their medical bills, said Shelleye Yaklin, president and CEO, NOCHS.

“We’re not expecting the patients to see or feel anything differently,” she said.

Growing market

NOCHS has invested “millions of dollars” over the years to bring new physicians into the Grand Haven area, Yaklin said.

“Over time, that has grown to be a very large and successful group, but it’s grown increasingly difficult for the health system to be able to allocate the resources needed to support the substantiality as well as the growth that is needed in the area,” she said.

Yaklin said additional physicians and updated infrastructure will be needed to meet the growing population and needs of Ottawa County, especially considering a generation of physicians is on their way to retirement.

She said NOCHS would not have been able to support the needed growth.

Stewards

The first “promise” NOCHS made over 100 years ago was to ensure a hospital be available for the Grand Haven community, said Jen VanSkiver, chief communications officer, NOCHS.

Less than a decade ago, the system made another “promise” to provide outpatient doctors because the service was needed.

VanSkiver said the deal with Mercy Health allows NOCHS to keep those promises.

“Partnering with Mercy to have them assure the … physician practices are well taken care — then we’re being a good steward for our community,” Yaklin said. “It doesn’t always have to be us. What we’re charged with is to make sure that it’s here.

“We need to spend the resources we have in the wisest way possible.”

Collaboration

Yaklin said the two organizations have been in collaboration discussions since 2016.

She said Mercy acquiring the physician group was the best way to ensure the “expansion and support” of the primary care group.

Mercy Health and the physician group were already “like-minded” and “clinically aligned” in some ways, such as through their use of the Affinity Network.

Because of these reasons and the business model and leadership, Yaklin said choosing Mercy to work with was the best option.

There’s also already a close relationship between the two systems and their physicians because of location and common patients.

“It made an awful lot of sense for our two organizations to see if we could come to an arrangement that makes sense for the physicians in the group and made sense for the two entities,” Yaklin said.

NOCHS will now be able to re-allocate resources that were being used toward the medical group, allowing the system to more easily grow and keep up with technology resources.

“I think it was a strategic decision by their board to free up resources to re-invest in that core businesses,” said Mary Boyd, chief health integration officer, Mercy Health.

Boyd added that Mercy Health is "pleased" that its collaborative relationship "brought us to this point, where we can continue outreach in Ottawa County and serve the patients’ needs."

NOCHS

The North Ottawa Community Health System manages the North Ottawa Community Hospital, North Ottawa Care Center and Hospice of North Ottawa Community.

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